More weekend reading; information you want to have!
More news. Some not so good, some depends on your viewpoint, and demographics. All improtant.
- “Have we fallen behind our parents?“, Katharine Mieszkowski, Salon, 14 may 2008 — “Author Nan Mooney argues that the middle class is slipping, and fixing it is going to take more than cutting out lattes.”
- “A comedy of areas“, Spengler, Asia Times, 10 September 2008 — There will not be any Georgians or Ukrainians in the not-so-distant-future.
- “Civil-Rights Election“, Peter Kirsanow, National Review Online, 9 July 2008 — Civil rights legislation on the fast-track under President Obama. These bills might re-shape America.
Update: I recommend watching this news report: “The Buccaneer Stops Here“, a review of the week’s top pirate headlines. “Who knew that President Obama would be tested not just by 21st century threats, but also those from the 18th C?” (hat tip to Calculated Risk):
- *Somali pirates apply to become bank in order to access TARP”
- *Paulson: TARP priate equity is an ‘investment’, will pay off”
- *Kaskkari says Somali pirates are ’fundamentally sound’”
- *Moody’s upgrade Somali Pirates to AAA”
- *Somali pirates in discussion to acquire Citibank”
- *Fed officials: aggressive easing would cut Somali pirate risk”
For a less amusing look at the Somali pirates, see the War Nerd.
1. “Have we fallen behind our parents?“, Katharine Mieszkowski, Salon, 14 may 2008 — In an interview with author Nan Mooney, “she argues that the middle class is slipping, and fixing it is going to take more than cutting out lattes.”
It’s a good time to be rich. Not since the Roaring Twenties has there been a period of such extreme income inequality in the United States, with just the top 1 percent of earners now hogging more than 20 percent of the nation’s annual income. Should this grossly unjust state of affairs ever make the filthy rich feel dirty, well, they can now wash that feeling away in a $100,000 shower.
But while the rich clean up, Nan Mooney, a 38-year-old journalist, wonders why so many people like her — college-educated professionals, members of the storied American middle class — still struggle to make it financially, well into their 30s and 40s and beyond, unable to pay off their student loans while trying to cover healthcare costs, save for their children’s education and plan for their own retirement. In her new book, (Not) Keeping Up With Our Parents: The Decline of the Professional Middle Class, Mooney argues that what it really means to be middle-class in America is suffering a rude downgrade, as college costs rise and wages stagnate at the same time that individuals must shoulder more healthcare and retirement expenses.
2. “A comedy of areas“, Spengler, Asia Times, 10 September 2008 – Nice graphics! Excerpt:
The fact is that there won’t be any Georgians or Ukrainians in the not-too-distant future. By coincidence, Washington’s two favorite beacons of liberty happen to be the two countries with the world’s fastest rate of population decline. By mid-century they will have barely half as many inhabitants as they do today, and half of those who remain will be elderly. Hardly men of military age and women of child-bearing age will remain. Their economies will implode long before the mid-century mark, as soaring retirement costs crush state budgets, and young people emigrate to escape the burden of supporting the elderly.
… It’s also the case that by 2050, there will be fewer than 100,000 Georgian women of child-bearing years (between the ages of 18 and 35). The number of potential mothers who speak Georgian will have fallen so far that Georgian will be in danger of extinction as a cradle-tongue later in the century. Ukraine presently has a population of 46 million, which will fall to about 25 million by 2050. But only 2.4 million of that 25 million will consist of women of child-bearing age.
… Over the long term, Russia’s own survival is at risk, as I have argued elsewhere (Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess and Russia’s hudna with the Muslim world). Whether Russia survives or not, it still will be a power in 2050 when the Ukraine and Georgia will exist only as obscure PhD topics in linguistics.
To say that Russia is brutal is a pleonasm, for Russia is not so much a noun as a gerund: what is Russian, is the result of Russification, a brutal business by definition. I hope that Russia will become a liberal democracy resembling the United States and that it will dispense with men like Vladimir Putin in the future. For it to become a liberal democracy, however, first it must survive, and most Russians today believe that they must be led by hard men to survive. This is not only unpleasant, but tragic.
To influence Russia for the better would take subtlety, skill, as well as good faith; sadly, America has displayed none of these.
3. “Civil-Rights Election“, Peter Kirsanow (member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights), National Review Online, 9 July 2008 — “The fast-track under President Obama.” Excerpt:
Should Barack Obama win this fall, 2009 will a busy year for enacting civil-rights legislation – perhaps the busiest since 1964.
Numerous civil-rights bills have either passed the House or are pending in various committees, just waiting for a Democrat to be elected to the White House. Traditional civil-rights groups anticipate that without the threat of veto, expanded Democratic majorities in Congress will pass a number of these bills in the first few months of 2009. Here are just a few of the bills likely to be signed by a President Obama within the next year.
- The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (“Akaka Bill”)
- The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act
- Comparable Worth Fair Pay Act of 2007
- The Paycheck Fairness Act
- Commission to Study Reparations Proposals for African-Americans Act
- Employment Non- Discrimination Act
- Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Protection Act of 2007
- Housing Fairness Act of 2007
- Ex-Offenders Voting Rights Act of 2007
Even considering the trade-offs and compromises that even a party in complete control of the executive and legislative branches must make, there’s a very good probability that most, if not all, of the foregoing bills will be signed into law if Sen. Obama wins. And it wouldn’t be surprising if even more bills join the list. The interest groups supporting the proposed legislation have been laboring in the wilderness for some time waiting for the harmonic convergence of large majorities in Congress and a Democrat in the White House. They won’t let the moment pass quietly.
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